2015 Mazda CX-5 Review
This is exactly the response when the Mazda CX-5 was introduced. It became the first product to wear the brand’s new KODO – Soul of Motion design language and to fully implement the Skyactiv structure throughout this small crossover. The result has been plenty of accolades calling this one of the best small crossovers in the market.
Getting to know the CX-5 is to see the KODO – Soul of Motion design up close and personal. It starts right up front with the “signature wing” grille forming the focal point of a very dramatic front end. The remainder of the CX-5 simply flows from there. This crossover is quite handsome with a balance between its compact size and dramatic shape.
Some may argue that the CX-5’s overall design may be derivative from its competition. If you believe this is true, take a walk back to the front of the CX-5 and rethink this a bit more. Do another walk around and see where the KODO language goes. The fluid shapes that channel airflow provides a deeper silhouette from every angle. In all, it is a handsome vehicle to look at.
It may appear small on the outside, but the driver will step inside a roomy and straightforward cabin. This top-line Grand Touring model offered up leather upholstery and supportive front seats to make driving the CX-5 a pleasure. Though firm to the back, the front seats provided enough bolstering to get through the turns. Rear seat passengers get welcomed accommodations with a big, but firm seat that locks you in. Though the cargo area is already cavernous, the rear seat can by folded three ways with the middle back folding down for long, thin cargo.
In front of the driver is would be seen as a rather conservatively designed dashboard – for a Mazda, mind you – in the CX-5. It is, however, very functional and ergonomically correct. Three big dials greet the driver behind a nice, thick and multifunctional steering wheel. The right dial acts as a trip computer and fuel gauge, while the left and center takes care of engine revs and speed respectively.
HVAC controls are easy to use on the lower center stack with dual zone climate control. Switches throughout the CX-5 were exceptional to the touch. A huge plus is the level of quality of materials and switches inside the CX-5’s interior – the best enjoyed in a Mazda, period.
The upper center stack houses Mazda’s new TomTom-powered navigation system. It is a very easy system to get through, including the ease of connecting a Bluetooth-enabled phone and setting radio stations for both terrestrial and SiriusXM satellite bands. There is Bluetooth audio connectivity to play your music files, as well as USB and auxiliary jack options for your iPod or MP3 player. Sound comes through Mazda’s nine-speaker Bose Centerpoint speaker system – a beautiful noise to have along for the ride.
For the Grand Touring model, a Skyactiv 2.5liter engine appears under the hood of the CX-5. It has 184 horsepower on tap and is perhaps the best engine match for this 3,560-pound crossover. The 2.5 is connected to the Skyactiv six-speed automatic with the CX-5’s all-wheel drive system. The drawback is it cruises around 2500RPM at top highway speed, where most in its class drop down below 2000RPM when running along at the same speed. Still, this powertrain works well for the tasks you will give it.
Mazdas are known for great driving dynamics. The CX-5 felt like a Mazda in several areas. Ride quality is solid, given the lighter weight and quiet nineteen-inch Toyo A23 tires. Those Toyos provided plenty of grip on both wet and dry surfaces. The suspension absorbed road imperfects and bumps without compromising the cabin. On curves and turns, there was some lean, but it was controlled by a combination of McPherson struts up front and a multilink setup out back. Basic cornering showed no drama up front as it tracked its way from rural Interstates to in-town traffic.
Steering is weighted heavily, but for good measure. You can accomplish tight turns with plenty of effort from the wheel. On-center feel is good in the CX-5, keeping the compact crossover under control through both the normal and the curvy parts of the road. Stopping power is just right with enough stopping distance at both normal and panic stops.
Having the Skyactiv badge on the liftgate denotes the ability to get better fuel efficiency than its competition. The overall fuel consumption figure of 27.0MPG is actually better than the 2.0liter Skyactiv engine under the hood of the low-end Sport model. It is also better than most in its class.
The CX-5 seems like a good proposition with its size, performance and the promise of efficient driving. Prices begin at $22,375 for a front-drive Sport model with a manual gearbox. Our Grand Touring AWD model stickered reached $31,475 with the added Technology Package. The best value is the Touring model with AWD, which starts at $27,045 before you select any of the packages.
All of this talk of Skyactiv and KODO may seem very mystical, but the CX-5 is a sign of a forging reality in the marketplace. Small crossovers are the bane of the automotive mix in our market.
The CX-5 already won in every aspect – by taking a different approach to this popular segment. It is all because of two ideas: Skyactiv and KODO.
**If you are interested in a Mazda CX-5, log onto CarSoup.com to find out what is available on sale. **
Photos © Mazda North American Operations